Building Your Business: Adapting to the New Sales Paradigm
A Florida dealer overhauled its traditional business to begin selling IP-based products and interactive services for the residential market. Learn how the extensive project was carried out successfully.
Sales representatives at Vector Security (formerly Certified Security Systems) in Jacksonville, Fla., went through an extensive training course in preparation for the launch of the company’s interactive services offering.
The door of opportunity is now wide open for installing security contractors to sell new technologies and services like never before. Finally the right products are available that provide homeowners the connectivity they desire, allowing them to keep an eye on their residences with IP cameras, control thermostats, receive alerts and much more.
Some security professionals are taking a wait-and-see approach to better understand how this market will play out before committing to sell any of these new products and services. That could be a risky approach. You can either carefully watch others to see how they made it down the trail to success or you can lead the way and be the one that others are watching.
To better serve our customers — and secure their business before the competition does — we became very proactive to compete in this new arena. What follows are the chains of events that helped us make the transition from a company focused on a portfolio of traditional products and services to now meeting customer expectations and demand for new and expanded ways to interact with their home security systems.
Refusing to Be Left Behind
For some dealers and integrators that have been selling security systems for more than 20 years, the new technology can be really scary. Some traditionalists in the industry are of the mind that we don’t need all this “stuff.” I even had one sales manager go as far as to tell me he thought small IP video packages were simply a fad that would burn out in a few years and we’d be back to selling basic alarms.
Quite the opposite, the new interactive home security and automation technology is exciting, easy to use, practical and affordable. We are not a company that jumps from product to product. We have been using the same product manufacturer for almost 15 years. We typically find a great product line and figure out the best way to sell it and stick with it. We will change our marketing strategies, but otherwise we are very loyal to what made us successful.
But time and technology marches on, and we recognized it was high time to secure our place in the market. We realized last year that we did not want to wait and try to play “catch up” with all the other companies in our markets. We wanted to lead the way. Not just in the new technology but in making sure our sales teams were the best prepared in the industry. Our goal was to find the new products that our customers would want and then give the sales teams the tools they needed to close every sale. And, we wanted to do it in a big way.
Giving a sales team new products can be challenging, especially if you want them to buy in and sell with enthusiasm. You can’t just “put it out there” and expect your team to figure it out for themselves. Your managers must have complete confidence, without any reservation or hesitation, before they can motivate the sales team.
Managers must be more excited than the sales team. It is like making a sale. If the salesperson is not excited about the product it is unlikely the prospect will be either. So if the leadership is excited and promotes the product, the sales team will likely follow their lead.
Groundwork Is Paramount
Our first order of business was to talk extensively with other alarm companies around the country. We discussed what was working for them and what was not working. We knocked around various ideas with some of the best marketing people in our industry. There were several conference calls and lots of notes taken to develop what we thought would be the right approach.
Next, we very carefully made a plan that included what product we would be selling, what training we would need, who would attend the training, and who would conduct the training. We even went as far as establishing a timeline to make all this happen. We established goals. We had the attitude that after we made the commitment that there was no turning back. We were “in it to win it.”
After we made the commitment to embrace the new technology, we began to discuss some of the products with our sales teams in sales meetings. We did tell them a few weeks ahead of time that we would be making a significant change to our products portfolio. A week before we had our first training class, we made sure that our sales managers were up to speed and understood the basic features and benefits of these products. That same week we distributed collateral material, such as brochures and users guides for the products to the sales teams.
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